Correspondence from the Eastern region
The government of Ghana is doing so much for cocoa farmers, but ironically, this is the time when farmers are really struggling, said David Koomson, a cocoa farmer in Pramkese in Kwaebibirem municipality.
The cocoa farmer who also operates an Approved Purchasing Company (LBC) in Pramkese reported that from November 2020 to date (August 2021), cocoa farmers who sold their beans to LBCs nationwide did not have since not received their money, leaving most of them in economic difficulty.
David Koomson, who spoke to GhanaWeb in Pramkese, said that “from November 2020 until now most farmers have their money stuck in sheds (LBC); they were not paid. The government will pay for this money, but it has not yet paid for it. “
“At the beginning, when you ask the bigger companies (to buy under license), they tell us that (Ghana Cocoa Board) did not release the money to them. This is where we get our money. This is the explanation they give us, ”he added.
According to David Koomson, 50, he also has some money blocked and hopes the government will release his money soon for cocoa farmers to breathe a sigh of relief.
“The challenge is that now the money is not available. When other farmers bring their cocoa to this shed, we don’t get money for them. Really, from November to this day, the farmers are in trouble. To this day, farmers’ money is stuck with cocoa “krakyes” or sheds that have not been paid to them. The government has done well, but it is rather this year that the farmers have had real difficulties, “he said.
“Honestly, the government is helping cocoa farmers in a variety of ways. He gives us insecticides to spray on our cocoa, he provides extension agents to guide us. Sometimes it provides us with fertilizers, among other things. So, for some time now, we haven’t had any challenges. But just last year, we started to have challenges, ”he explained.
David Koomson owns three separate cocoa farms totaling 22 acres, all located in the Municipality of Kwaebibrem. He employs a number of temporary farm laborers and he has three permanent workers who help him cultivate his 22-acre cocoa farm.
He told McAnthony Dagyenga of Ghanaweb that growing cocoa is a tough business and therefore needs determined people to fill this position.
The farmer said, “When you start farming, you won’t get any income from it until you harvest it; and you will have to feed your workers and transport them every day to and from the farm.
David Koomson pointed out that there is quite a daunting process of work a farmer would have to go through on his cocoa plantation until it is finally bagged and sold to LBCs.
“After planting, when the cocoa crop grows, you have to frequently weed around, prune and spray insecticides regularly, these are all jobs around the cocoa. When it ripens you will now have to harvest, I cannot harvest alone. I need workers. You will get workers to help break the pods of the fruit, wait for fermentation for six days, then bring the seeds home to dry for about a week before they are fully dried.
“So from planting to drying, you won’t get any income. You have to pay all of these bills yourself before when the seeds are purchased you can make any money from them. This makes growing cocoa difficult, ”he explained.
Despite all these disheartening processes, David Koomson wooed young Ghanaians to venture into cocoa cultivation, saying that without their involvement, cocoa production could be phased out in the near future.
“At the moment, most of the older people who start cocoa farming are aging and weakening, so if the young people do not start cocoa farming, cocoa production in Ghana will decline.”
“It’s the same job our ancestors did to care for us. I encourage young people to get into cocoa farming. Really, it’s a tough business, but they can make more money out of it, ”he added.
He pleaded for Ghanaian academics to seek to invent technologies that would make cocoa cultivation and cocoa processing an attractive business for young people.